The Fruit Chronicles: Superfruits That Are Kicking Acai's Ass
Let’s face it— açai may be on its way out.
Of course, the Brazilian-grown berries are still delicious and have all the same benefits they did pre-trend…and will no doubt be the same when the fixation is over and the excitement is gone. However, it’s also fair to say that the long-reigning queen of the superfruit world has had its day in the sun. Slowly, but surely, the queen will be dethroned— perhaps leaving a void in this country’s obsessive need for a fruit fad. It’s not a matter of if, but when.
We are living in a culture with the collective attention span of a gnat, after all.
WHAT IS A SUPERFRUIT?
If your diet isn’t a total snooze fest, you’ve probably already eaten a ton of superfoods, and a few superfruits.
But do you know what they are?
If not, let us take this opportunity to offer some tough love and school you on the dangers of putting things into your body based solely on the viral ravings of a magazine-of-the-moment or worse—some Hollywood starlet looking to make a quick buck off the latest health craze. Seriously, don’t do it to yourself.
In fact, when it comes to superfruits—and brace yourself, because this may come as a shock for you die-hard fruit fans— some scientists strongly believe that the “super” label is nothing more than a marketing strategy slapped on haphazardly by the food industry to move more product.
Not that you shouldn’t eat them. Just know why you’re eating them. Don’t be a fruit sheep.
Here’s the truth on these so-called miracle-working fruits. Straight up, no chaser.
Superfruits all contain higher amounts of antioxidants (known as polyphenols) than your average fruit. In a nutshell, these antioxidants are anti-inflammatory and can fight free radicals when consumed consistently over a long period of time. While the exact health benefits vary from superfruit to superfruit, the possession of these can be key to slowing down the body’s aging process. BUT.
“Super” or not, they are still just fruits. Full of fiber and minerals—yes. A magic anti-aging potion, or water from the fountain of youth—no. They’re certainly no substitute for an active, healthy lifestyle and loads of sunscreen…and in some cases, believe it or not, you CAN have too much.
Not all fruits are created equal…that is true enough. But as long as you have a well-balanced diet, there’s certainly no reason to make yourself crazy worshipping at the altar of a single fruit you may secretly be tired of just because a few middle-aged men sitting behind corporate marketing desks say so.
So, call us crazy, but maybe it’s time to switch up your superfruit game by throwing a few substitutes into the mix. You’re welcome.
PITAYA, OR DRAGON FRUIT
This one has already had its spin on the carousel of popularity… but something tells us it’s poised to make a comeback. While nobody was looking, Starbucks was busy coming up with its newest seasonal beverage—the Mango Dragon Fruit Refresher. Of course, Starbucks is hardly the arbiter of health in this country— but it does manage to stay on top of trending fruit. We haven’t totally forgotten the Strawberry Açai Refresher and its many variations (we see you, Pink Drink!). And it’s a valid choice. Packed with vitamin C, this cute—but otherwise bland-tasting fruit—is a good go-to for the next time you feel a cold coming on. Its high-fiber content is said to help detoxify the body, create a smoother digestion process, and boost the metabolism— a great way to jumpstart your next workout session.
CARAMBOLA, OR STARFRUIT
This sweet and sour fruit can be found growing on the trees of the Malay Peninsula. True to its nickname, Carambola is shaped like a star— quelle surprise. It’s one of the lowest-calorie superfruits with just 31 of them per serving, and like dragon fruit, carries loads of fiber and vitamin C. But beware. Due to its high amounts of oxalic acid, carambola also carries a hidden danger for those taking prescription drugs or those with kidney problems. If consumed in high quantities, it may lead to something called starfruit toxicity— which can cause serious neurological problems such as seizures and confusion. Bottom line: talk to your doctor before making this one a regular part of your diet, babes.
Like a lovechild between pineapple and strawberry, soursop is probably the most citrusy of the exotic superfruits. Soursop is native to Latin America, but can be found growing in Florida, parts of Africa and Southeast Asia. If you’re allergic to dairy and can’t stand the taste of almond, soy or coconut (yikes!), you’re in luck. The juice extracted from this fruit is just the right texture to be a stand-in for a milk-based smoothie (try with banana, peanut butter and cacao nibs—again, you’re welcome). Having trouble sleeping? The leaves that grow alongside soursop can be brewed into a calming tea, perfect for nights when insomnia is the only other one in your bed.
Don’t judge a book—er, berry—by its cover. We know what you’re thinking: that is one ugly fruits, right? But did you know that rambutan is incredibly sweet (and in our opinion, at least five times sexier than the strawberry). However, knowing HOW to eat them is key. Inside this bright red berry is a large seed that has proven to be slightly toxic when eaten. But it’s not all bad. Rambutan is high in in iron and H2O—a natural way to get that healthy hair, long nails and glowing skin you’ve been chasing since your teens.
One of the most controversial of the superfruits, camu camu has been debated among professionals in the medical field over its potential medicinal purposes. Found within the depths of South America’s Amazonian rainforests, the fruit contains large amounts of fatty acids, proteins and minerals often used to treat asthma, arthritis, depression, and certain strains of herpes (like cold sores). Unfortunately, there is not enough evidence to support the effectiveness of camu camu in treating these ailments— so think carefully before kissing any toads!